Today I setup the first lab of Google Chromebooks for use at Geneseo High School.  The experience was very positive,  the machines just work.  I started assembling the lab after lunch and had 28 units unboxed, setup joined to Wi-Fi and ready to go by 3:00 PM.  This is a quick turn around for deploying the machines and most of the time was really spent getting the mobile cart setup and wired.  Machines in a nutshell run the browser Chrome and run it well with full java, Flash, etc.  They offer a full keyboard, great battery life and come at a very low price point = excellent.

(28 Chromebooks in Mobile Lab)

chromebooksgood

The are another 150 units ready to go to make five more mobile labs but are just awaiting shipment of the mobile carts.

When I was an undergraduate at Mizzou I used Yahoo to store all of my documents into a service called Yahoo briefcase.  This was back in 1999 and the service was great.  I would go to a student lab on campus or perhaps the library and then would work on my research paper and save my progress online to Yahoo briefcase.  This way I could access the information from anywhere I could get to yahoo.  Google has taken this concept to the next level and really offers the most comprehensive cloud services for free.  Further being able to use any machine or any device to access your information is efficient, simplifies IT management, and is a skill set I think everyone should have.

The domain Geneseoschools.org is now registered with Google and ¬¨‚Ćcan generate unlimited number of email accounts for life with 25 gigs of google drive storage and access to all Google’s services. ¬¨‚ĆSince it is an educational account no advertising or banner ads are inserted into the email. ¬¨‚ĆAgain that is unlimited number of email accounts that never expire, ¬¨‚Ćfull spam filter, full backup and archiving, and full access to all Google’s cloud services with 25 gigs worth of cloud storage free.

This sets up multiple possibilities such as providing an Google account to all students and using Google to store all documents and files.  This greatly simplifies student data management and in many cases reduces the need to maintain a LDAP based directory system for students (No need to sync data, use flash drives, create accounts in workgroup manager, etc).  Instead machines can be imaged and run like college labs or kiosks and students are required to use cloud storage to save, collaborate and store their work.  This is good skill set for all students to have and perhaps a case could be made to incorporate into a tech curriculum.  Although I feel Google offers the best of most complete set of cloud services, skydrive, iCloud, dropbox, etc all work well and can also be used to accomplish same approach.  Strangely Yahoo was really one of the first to offer cloud storage services for free and they unwisely decided to cancel yahoo briefcase for some unknown reason. (Yahoo Briefcase can be thought of like an early version of dropbox or Google drive).

Back to Chromebooks although the devices are not really full functional PC’s per say, they are very good at running web based activities which in my experience is what happens 90 percent of the time (my office for 5 years has been next to a computer lab). ¬¨‚ĆHaving full computers (not Chromebooks) available is a good compliment with Chromebooks when you need to use full Microsoft Excel, handle movie editing, programming with Etheral or Xcode, using Autocad, Solidworks, Adobe Suite, etc – these activities use the full power of ¬¨‚Ća full computer and are best done on such a machine, it just happens that most users and students in educational settings only need this power about 10 percent of the time, if that. ¬¨‚ĆThis makes devices like Chromebooks a great fit at a great price point.